Northern California Educational Leadership Consortium

NorCal Educators' Digest

Join the NorCal ELC Network and we’ll send you an email when each newsletter is available. Our newsletter is an information source for project activities, events, resources, school success stories, and hot topics for schools in the Shasta Region of 21CSLA.

NorCal Educator's Digest

February 2023

BREAKING NEWS: NorCal ELC Funded for Three More Years

NorCal ELC recently learned that our proposal for funding professional learning for school and teacher leaders for 2023-2026 in the Shasta Region was approved by the California Department of Education. Our partnership looks forward to continuing the powerful program focused on equity, continuous improvement, and leadership capacity building, as well as creating new services and opportunities for school and teacher leaders. Watch for more information in the coming months.

NorCal ELC 3rd Winter Leadership Institute

NorCal Educational Leadership Consortium (NorCal ELC) held its third annual Winter Leadership Institute (WLI) January 30 & 31 with nearly 300 educators across the 11 county Shasta Region. Mike Kotar, Regional Director, welcomed attendees, noting that by the end of Year 3, NorCal ELC will have served approximately 10 percent of the roughly 5000 educators in the Shasta Region. He emphasized that the WLI provides an opportunity for us to learn from one another, focus on increasing equity, and expand the capacity of school leaders for school improvement for better outcomes for students. Abeo School Change expertly managed the complex task of orchestrating a meaningful two day agenda while navigating immense technology considerations.

The WLI continued the theme around the Habits of Continuous Improvement as teams were asked to share their continuous improvement journey thus far. The WLI provides a midyear “benchmark” for teams to reflect on their Problems of Practice (PoP) and share their progress with colleagues.  A modified consultancy protocol was used:

Through consultancies, participants shared:

  •   Where they’ve been and where they are going
  •   Progress, strengths, and needs
  •   Intentions for moving forward

As always, the NorCal ELC Essential Question formed the anchoring reflection: “How do we collectively transform education to improve access, opportunity and inclusion, especially for students who are historically underserved / historically resilient, so that they can thrive?”

The WLI program included a diverse line up of content sessions. Local experts presented on the California Dashboard, Leading Effective Teams, Universal Design for Learning, Adult SEL, Rethinking the English Learner Label, Leading While Female, and more.  One presenter, Roman Stearns, discussed the value of a Graduate Profile and shared this provocation:

 “As educators and society, we’ve become complicit - valuing what we measure, rather than measuring what we value”.  

Another session, by Lily Chang and Mele Benz on Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity, (based on the book by that title) left participants in deep reflection.  One participant followed up after the session with an email to the presenters stating:

“We focus on setting goals and achieving them, but I can't help but wonder if our core values reflect conditional belonging based on achievement. We think we can crack the code on Hispanic academic achievement with instructional strategies, just like we have done for our socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Our work focused on Hispanic students has us in a loop between steps 4 and 9 in the Dysfunction Cycle. We know we need to develop better vocabulary support and relevance for our students, but I'd love to chat more with you about this conditional belonging idea. We are missing something.”

An incredibly relevant and resource packed presentation on Leading Effective Teams by Kevin Kurtz and Kenny Richards encouraged leaders to look for the “Sweet Spot” between candor and curiosity, lean into the Ladder of Inference, and explore stages of team development.

Participant reflections revealed a strong appreciation for the consultancy collaborations, team time and content sessions. Dr. Kotar, observing cross-team interactions noted, “It was amazing; both fun and engaging. Team members were really into helping each other out.”  A poignant quote he shared from the book Sapiens, as a connection to the work of the WLI, said much:

“Humans can imagine a future that is different from their present.” Indeed.

For more information about the Winter Leadership Institute, contact Dr. Michael Kotar.

To view the content session recordings from the Winter Leadership Institute, access the resources here.

NorCal ELC Webinar Series

NorCal Equity Community of Practice 2022-23

With Lily Chang - Coordinator of Continuous Improvement, BCOE

  • Session 3: Thursday, April 20th, 2023 @ 3:30-5 PM

Lily Chang held the second session of the NorCal ELC Equity Community of Practice on January 26th. Participants included educators from the Shasta Region and beyond, including educators from Santa Cruz County Office of Education and Orange County Department of Education and other LEAs. The NorCal Equity Community or Practice, now in its second year, hosts three sessions throughout the year to connect, engage in learning and share resources. 

This year, the book Belonging through a Culture of Dignity by Cobb and Krownapple, is serving as a focal text. Lily walked participants through the dysfunctional cycle of equity from the book as well as a framework illustrating cultures that honor or violate dignity (Google Doc). Participants engaged in meaningful conversations and it was clear the theme of belonging has deep resonance. Creating the conditions for acceptance not tied to achievement can open the way to developing a stronger sense of belonging and shift outcomes for all students, but in particular for those most historically marginalized.

The next and final session will be held April 20th from 3:30pm - 5:00pm and will be live cast and interactive on Zoom. For more information about the Norcal Equity Community of Practice, contact Lily Chang.

Register & join the NorCal Equity Community of Practice. (PDF)

Help Pilot Environmental Justice Lessons

Ten Strands, the San Mateo County Office of Education, and several curriculum writing teams are partnering to create an engaging, student-centered curriculum focused on climate change and environmental justice. Educators, schools, and districts that want to consider assisting in the pilot can complete the Educator Interest Survey

Educators participating in the pilot commit to:

  • Participate in training on implementing the lessons,
  • Teach two 1-hour lessons in their classroom in April-June, 2023, 
  • Gather student questions and models of thinking, and
  • Provide feedback via a survey and focus group. 

By participating in this pilot, you will contribute to high-quality curriculum materials that will be available to all learners in California. Educators who complete all requirements of the pilot will qualify for a stipend for preparation and follow up time outside of contract hours. Ten Strands is also recruiting educators to field test the 15 hour unit in Spring of 2024 via the survey.

Please complete this survey to be referred to the appropriate curriculum writing team.

Climate Change and Environmental Justice Program Team | Ten Strands

e. ; web:

Staff shortages? Struggling with staff burnout?

Many school districts are struggling with staff shortages and educator burnout. Self-care is a necessary but often not sufficient means to support workplace well-being. The U.S. Surgeon General's Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being (PDF) identifies five essentials, and implementation ideas and resources. 

Noted in the Framework: 

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought the relationship between work and well-being into clearer focus. Workers across the world reported feeling more stressed in 2021 than they were in 2020.  In a separate 2021 survey of 1,500 U.S. adult workers across for-profit, nonprofit and government sectors, 76% of respondents reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition, an increase of 17 percentage points in just two years. Furthermore, 84% of respondents reported at least one workplace factor (e.g., emotionally draining work, challenges with work-life balance, or lack of recognition) that had a negative impact on their mental health.”

The framework encourages a re-imagining of workplaces as engines of well-being. By centering on worker voice and equity, the five elements, each grounded in two human needs are depicted here.(opens in new window)

21CSLA Universal Transitional Kindergarten Module 2 Pilot for the Shasta Region

The 21CSLA State Center will offer Module 2 - Leaders Envisioning Equitable TK Classrooms in Action over three 2-hour sessions for the Shasta Region. Participation is free and open to all interested educators. This professional learning module will be offered via Zoom on April 3, April 17, and May 1, from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.

GUIDING QUESTION: What should leaders see in inclusive, high quality, and culturally and linguistically relevant TK classrooms?
LEARNING OUTCOME: After exploring research and standards related to high-quality, developmentally appropriate instruction, leaders can identify specific “look fors” in TK classrooms to develop their instructional leadership for implementing California’s UTK.

View flyer for registration details(opens in new window).

Creative Education Symposium: Connecting the Arts to Social-Emotional Learning

Humboldt County Office of Education invites you to join the Creative Education Symposium: Connecting the Arts to Social-Emotional Learning in Eureka, March 25th, 2023 from 9am-4pm.  Author Dr. Susie Wise of Design for Belonging will be the Keynote Speaker and several breakout workshops will be offered.

See more information and registration here.

Save the Date!

CA MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Support) Professional Learning Institute is in Anaheim, CA on July 18-20, 2023.  More to come.

KQED Spring Media Challenge for Middle & High School Students

An Easy Cartooning Project to Engage Students’ Communication Skills (Read full article)

Incorporating art projects in history, English and social science classrooms helps students practice communication and exercise their civic voice. The Political Cartooning Youth Media Challenge [this links to more info for implementing] is a low-lift media project for busy teachers and a high-impact project for students to express their creativity.

Check out the student editorial cartoons featured in our latest blog.

CCEE Learning Acceleration System Grant

What is Learning Acceleration? The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) is taking a multi-pathway approach with their Learning Acceleration System Grant. According to CCEE’s Playbook for Accelerating Learning: 

“Learning acceleration is a system-wide approach that strategically tackles unfinished learning using a whole-child approach. This includes using formative data, a deep understanding of learning progressions, and a relational approach to accelerate learning. Students engaged in acceleration access a laser-focused, high-quality, and rich learning experience that moves them forward and sets them up for success with just-in-time training on required foundational skills. An acceleration approach, in essence, is about building bridges rather than filling holes.

California Collaborative for Learning Acceleration (CCLA), in partnership with CCEE, is strategically leveraging expertise around learning acceleration across the state in order to provide professional learning resources and support that can be accessed by every educator. The design of this work will include an online repository of high-quality resources for mathematics, literacy, and language development (LD) that integrate universal design for learning (UDL), culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) and social-emotional learning (SEL) practices.

Resources are available and others are currently under development. We will bring updates as they occur. View the Learning Acceleration System Grant webpage.